B. Wordsworth Summary and Analysis by V.S. Naipaul

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In this B. Wordsworth short summary, we will briefly discuss the plotline of the story. One day a tidily dressed man, named B. Wordsworth shows up at the young narrator’s house, wanting to look at the bees in his yard. He claims to be the greatest poet in the world and informs the boy that the B in his name stood for Black, and that he was William Wordsworth’s brother. He tries to sell a poem to the boy but is chased away by his mother. A week later, the boy and the poet meet again, and they go to his house at Alberto Street to eat mangoes. The boy is beaten up by his mother for roaming around on his own.


Crying, he leaves his house and returns back to B. Wordsworth’s house, who takes him for a walk and makes him gaze at stars to pacify him. The young boy and the poet soon become friends and they start going for long walks all around the city. One day, the boy asks him why he kept his yard wild and unattended. In response, B. Wordsworth told him a story about a poet couple who fell in love and got married. The couple were waiting for their child, who was never born for the woman died with the child inside her. The man then vowed never to touch his late wife’s garden again, and let it grow wild. Another day, B. Wordsworth tells the boy that he is writing the greatest poem of all time, which will take twenty-two years to complete for he only wrote one line every month – with the essence of that whole month distilled into that line. The friendship between the poet and the boy keeps deepening with time, and they continue to go on their walks together. One day when the boy visits the poet in his house, he sees him lying on his bed, frail and weak, almost close to his death. The poet then tells the boy a funny story, which entailed that his story about the poet couple was a made-up one, and that everything he had ever told him about his poetry and the greatest poem in the world were all made up. Shaken up, the boy goes home crying. After a year, when he again visits Alberto Street, looking for B. Wordsworth’s house, he finds that the house and the yard had been replaced by a two-storeyed building, with bricks and concrete everywhere. It was almost as if B. Wordsworth had never existed. 

B. Wordsworth Summary

In this B. Wordsworth summary, we will go over the events that take place in the story. The story begins with the description of three beggars visiting the house of the young narrator in Miguel Street: a dhoti-clad Indian who came looking for rice, an old woman who wanted a cent, and a blind man led by a boy who wanted a penny. 

One such strange visitor who came to the young narrator’s house was a tidily dressed small man who only wanted to look at bees. The narrator’s mother, suspicious of this man who spoke in good English, asked her son to keep a watch on the man as he watched the bees on their gru-gru palm trees. Together, the man and the narrator watched the bees, and he revealed to the young boy how he could watch inconsequential insects like the ants, scorpions, and centipedes for hours. It was during this first encounter that the strange man revealed his name and profession. His name was B. Wordsworth, and he was a poet. The B in his name stood for black, and he claimed that he was the brother of the White Wordsworth, the actual poet. And just like William Wordsworth, even he had the poet’s sensitivity to tear up while watching a beautiful flower. When the boy asked B. Wordsworth why he cried, he replied saying that it’s because he was a poet and poets cry for everything. Then he later added that he thought the boy was a poet too, and like all other poets, even he would understand the overwhelming desire to tear up for everything when he grew up. 

Then B. Wordsworth asked the narrator if he wished to buy his poem on mothers for four cents. The boy asked his mother, who rudely asked the poet to go away from his yard. The boy then says to the poet that his mother does not have four cents. B. Wordsworth takes this rejection in his stride quite gracefully, calling it a “the poet’s tragedy”. He says that he goes around trying to sell his poetry in that manner. And although nobody buys his poetry, he does it anyway in hopes of observing new things and meeting fellow poets. 

A week later, the young boy meets the poet again, who invites him to his house to gorge on some juicy mangoes. The boy goes to the poet’s one-room hut with a yard, and has six mangoes that stain his shirt. When he reaches his home, his mother beat him badly for returning home late. The young boy then cried and ran out of his house, running all the way to B. Wordsworth’s house with a bleeding nose. The poet consoles the young boy and takes him out for a walk down St. Clair Avenue to the Savannah and the race course. Then the poet lied down on the grass with the boy and asked him to look at the sky and observe how far the stars were from them. The boy then had a beautiful moment when he forgot all his anger and tears, focusing on how small he felt among all the stars, and yet so big and great at the same time. And while the two were star-gazing, a policeman asked the poet what he was doing, to which the poet replied that he had been seeking that answer for forty years himself. 

Wordsworth and the young boy soon became friends. One day the boy asked the poet why he never cleaned all the overgrown bush in his yard. Instead of directly answering the boy’s question, B. Wordsworth told him a story of two poets who fell in love and got married. The man loved words, and the woman loved grass, flowers, and trees. The woman got pregnant, but the child was never born, for the woman died before she could bring the baby into the world. Grief-struck, the man decided to never touch his late wife’s garden, which grew high and wild. 

The poet and the boy together went for many walks to the Botanical Gardens and the Rock Gardens, climbing the Chancellor Hall in the late afternoon to watch the sunset. B. Wordsworth did everything as if he were doing it for the first time, and his excitement made the world an exciting place for the boy. 

One day B. Wordsworth revealed to the boy his secret. He was writing the greatest poem of all time – an endeavour that would take him many years for he only wrote a line every month. Each line would carry the distilled essence of the whole month, such that the complete poem, which would be finished in twenty-two more years, would speak to all humanity. 

The friendship between the poet and the boy deepened with time and they continued going on walks. However, the boy never heard of B. Wordsworth’s greatest poem anymore. One day, intrigued, the boy asked him how he made his money. To this, the poet replied that he earned his livelihood singing calypsos in the calypso season.

One day when the boy went to visit the poet, he found him lying on his bed looking so weak and old that it made the boy want to cry. He then informed the boy that his poem was not going well, and that he could no longer feel within him the power he felt when he was twenty. Tears welled up in the boy’s eyes as he could see death approaching his friend’s shrinking face. Seeing the boy’s sensitivity, the poet remarked that he knew that the boy had the poet’s eyes with which he saw the world. B. Wordsworth then pulled the boy close to narrate to him a funny story. The only condition was that after listening to the story, the boy could never visit the poet again. Once the boy agreed, he began his story. He told the boy that his story about the poet couple was a made-up one. He further added that all his talk of poetry and writing the greatest poem in the world were also made up, and then asked the boy if that was the funniest thing he had heard. 

The young boy ran home crying – like a poet. And a year after, when he went to Alberto Street, where the poet’s house used to be, he found in his hut’s place a big two-storeyed building. The yard with its green trees were gone and there was concrete everywhere. It was almost as if B. Wordsworth had never existed. 

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B. Wordsworth Plot

Wordsworth plot follows a unique friendship between two individuals – a self-proclaimed poet and a young boy. The plot mostly includes meetings between the friends, comprising the long walks they take around their city and the random conversations they have about life, nature, and the poet’s many stories. Through the course of the plot, the most beautiful relationship unravels between a child and an adult, where the man teaches the child all about the beauties of life and nature, and the child allows the man a space where he can be any version of himself he desires. Most of the plot is just conversations between these two friends through which we discover about B. Wordsworth’s life and his identity crisis. The boy is a medium through which the ambiguous character of B. Wordsworth unfolds itself to the readers.

B. Wordsworth Analysis and In-Depth Explanation

In this B. Wordsworth analysis, we will delve deeper into the short story.

Taken from V.S. Naipaul’s short story collection, Miguel Street, B. Wordsworth is the tale of an endearing friendship that blossomed in not-so-ordinary circumstances – between an adult poet and a young boy. We have enough evidence in the story to suggest that both the characters were lonely. The poet lived all by himself, spending his time observing nature and the world; whereas the young boy had a disturbed relationship with his abusive mother. This loneliness of theirs bridged the huge age gap between the poet and the boy, and they together embarked on a beautiful relationship that helped them navigate through life. 

In the poet, the boy finds somebody who will introduce to him the wonders of being alive on earth. B. Wordsworth had a loving curiosity towards everything, which even filled the young boy with zest for life. On the other hand, by holding a non-judgemental space for the poet, the young boy enabled B. Wordsworth to adopt any identity for himself that he wished. The boy believed everything the poet said; and so, around him, the poet could make all his illusions or fantasies about life come true – such as him being a great poet who is working on the greatest poems of all time that will speak to all humanity. However, their relationship does not last for long, for B. Wordsworth soon dies. But the relationship served a beautiful much-needed purpose in the life of both friends when they probably needed it the most. 

The short story also offers a good commentary on art and the process of artistic creation. At the end of the story, B. Wordsworth reveals to the boy that everything he ever said to him – the story about the poet couple and about himself being a great poet, were all made up. Just like everything the poet said, even art, at the end of the day, is a made-up version of reality. So one can say, that B. Wordsworth was living an art piece – a story in which he was the character. Throughout the story, a lot of insights are given by B. Wordsworth on what it is like to be a poet. Through his conversations with the boy, we learn that to be a poet is to be so full of sensitivity that one can cry at both the joys and sorrows. B. Wordsworth thought the young boy was a poet in the making, for he possessed this sensitivity.

Although the story is set in Trinidad, and there are a few mentions of the local places, the actual setting of this short story is the world that B. Wordsworth creates for the young boy. The short story narrative follows the first person point of view. However, as the narrator is a young and naïve boy, what he narrates to us about B. Wordsworth needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The boy does not analyse anything that he hears from the poet; and so, the onus of making sense of the actual reality of the story and how it might differ from what the poet said lies on the reader. 

The writing style of Naipaul in this short story is simple. He has used a lot of dialogues and quickly shifting scenes to build a fast-paced narrative that keeps the attention of the reader hooked. The colloquial English used in the short story adds a distinct flavour to it. 

B. Wordsworth Character Analysis

In this B. Wordsworth character analysis, we will analyse the characters of B. Wordsworth and the young boy. 

In B. Wordsworth, we are presented with the most peculiar character – a poet who is conflicted about his identity. He uses a young boy as a medium to make true whatever he wished was true about his life, in the time that he spent with the young narrator. Through his conversations with the boy, we come to know that B. Wordsworth believed himself to be a great poet working on one of the greatest poems of all times. At the end of the story, when the poet finally confesses to the young boy that everything he had said about himself was made up, then our suspicions that the poet was suffering from a deep identity crisis get confirmed. Perhaps the poet was unhappy with the life he led and harboured in his heart the deep desire to become the greatest poet of all time. This is why when he found trusting audience with the young boy, he started speaking about his desires as if they were a reality. This dissatisfaction that the poet had with his life makes us question the life of poets in general. B. Wordsworth mentioned that it was the “poet’s tragedy” to not have his work sold and be given the recognition they deserved. Perhaps this lack of recognition plagued the poet. Additionally, we also get to discover the artistic paralysis that B. Wordsworth underwent, unable to produce poetry. This gives us insights into the creative struggle the process of artistic creation can be.

The other prominent character in the story is the young boy. The boy is a sensitive individual who lends a patient, compassionate ear to B. Wordsworth. Perhaps it was because of the young boy’s willingness to listen without judgement that B. Wordsworth could open up about his deepest desires regarding the kind of person he wanted to be. However, the young boy believed everything the poet said to him, without adding a pinch of salt. This makes us understand that the boy was naive and perhaps too trusting for his own good. 

B. Wordsworth Theme

The most prominent B. Wordsworth themes are friendship and art. 

Friendship is the perfect cure to loneliness. It is when you have a trusting friend in your life who will not judge you, can you get the power to become whoever you wish to be. Through the beautiful relationship between a poet and a young boy, we become aware of the power friendship has to make any reality come true – even if it is for a short while. 

Art is divorced from reality, in the way that all art is a made-up version of reality. We see this definition of art playing out across the short story, for B. Wordsworth kept living out of his favourite story about his life in front of the naive and trusting young boy. Writers exist because readers award them with their willing suspension of disbelief. Even the young boy awarded the poet with his willing suspension of disbelief that allowed B. Wordsworth to create out of his life the masterpiece he wanted in the eyes of the boy. 

Another theme of the short story is the importance of enjoying leisure and being present in the moment, appreciating the beauties of nature, the world, and its people. B. Wordsworth by spending time with the young boy teaches him, and in turn, the readers the simplest way to enjoy life. 

Conclusion

Salvatore by V. S. Naipaul is the story of a beautiful friendship between two lonely souls – a self-proclaimed poet and a young boy. The poet teaches the young boy about the joys of being alive and present in the moment; whereas the young boy provided the poet with a space to be whoever he wished to be. It is through the conversations between the poet and the boy that we learn about B. Wordsworth’s identity crisis and his lose grip on reality. Through their friendship, we also get to learn about the sensitive compassionate nature of the young boy, who had a troubled family life. Together these two created a space where fantasies played hide and seek with reality, and life was a thing worth exploring in loving company. 


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